Driver has plummeted in standings since runner-up 2012 finish Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live " Vote: Ultimate Daytona Moment From the time Clint Bowyer announced, "It's got a dingy!", we knew this wasn't going to be the garden variety fatherhood. So when Bowyer was asked recently whether fatherhood had knocked him out of his normal offseason routine, we should have expected a quintessentially Clint answer. "It's not been normal," Bowyer said with a laugh. "He (expletive) his pants the other night and it was the most not normal thing I've ever seen in my life. I was gagging. (Lorra's) laughing at me. I'm like, 'You got to get in here, it's horrible!' And he's just sitting there laughing." It was a light moment between Clint and his wife, Lorra, and their now 4-month-old son Cash. And it was just the type of funny story that team co-owner Michael Waltrip hopes we'll hear more of this season from the guy who is just as fast with a quip as he is driving a race car. That's because last season was rough for Bowyer , and some of the fun disappeared. His 19th-place finish in the final standings driving the No. 15 Toyota for MWR was his worst showing in nine full-time Cup seasons. It was a far cry from when he finished second to Brad Keselowski in 2012. "We knew we were in trouble," Bowyer said of last season. "I was just barely getting by to get into the Chase -- and was going to make it -- but a part failure at Atlanta threw us out. That's not any way or shape that we wanted to be in going into a Chase. I wanted to be able to contend for a championship, and I knew if we made it in, we wouldn't go very far." Failing to make the Chase was a wake-up call for a driver who had finished in the top 10 in the final standings on five different occasions. It also gave Bowyer the opportunity to be, as he said, put out of his misery so he could focus on getting ready for 2015. A big part of what has helped him focus on the 2015 season has been becoming a father. "(Fatherhood) slows you down, there's no question it slows you down," Bowyer said. "Your focus is all on simple things. Your life isn't as complex as it once was. You don't have time to pick your head up and take in all the rest of it. You stay focused on your family and your child and racing. It really does simplify your life quite a bit because you're not drawn to so many distractions." Perhaps that type of focus is what helped Kevin Harvick during his championship season. There was a memorable photo of Harvick sitting next to son Keelan on the track after winning at Homestead with their backs against the wall and each giving a thumbs-up sign. Going back to 2013, it was Matt Crafton who won the first of back-to-back NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championships in the year his first child was born. So maybe there is a slight correlation between becoming a parent and being able to perform better at a job, instead of the opposite, which is what some might expect. Count Waltrip as a firm believer in it. "It certainly did that for me when I had my daughter," Waltrip said about gaining a renewed sense of focus. "My opinion is you become more of a complete person so you're more comfortable with who you are. You see your kid and you see that race car, and you're like, 'I'm going to race the heck out of that car and then I'm going to come back and hang out with my little son.' " Like Waltrip said, MWR will need Bowyer to be focused for the 2015 season. Waltrip said there was still some ad inventory to be sold on Bowyer's car, and there's the usual pressure of needing to perform well in order to satisfy current or potential clients. Bowyer knows it's important to make last season seem like a blip on the radar instead of the norm. "It's crucial for me, for 5-hour Energy, for all our partners, for everyone involved at MWR, that this is a rebound year and we get back to our winning ways and where we once were," Bowyer said. "It is very, very crucial that that happens." With all that pressure, though, the hope is that little Cash will bring Clint back to center. So far, so good. "He seems more fun and I know that's crazy because he's always been that guy," Waltrip said of Bowyer . "But you can just see it in his eyes. He's a happy man. That's why I'm so thankful that his energy for the team and where we're at as an organization is where he is mentally. Because we need that fun Clint guy, and we got him, and I think his son is a big part of that." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Clint Bowyer shares his view on Jeff Gordon's final full-time season
Bowyer to medical personnel: 'Get the hell out of my way' RELATED: Follow your picks in the Perfect Chase Grid Challenge for chance at $100,000 prize KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- When Clint Bowyer 's phone rings these days, he's on alert. That's why it's now more frequently found with the volume up than on vibrate -- just in case there's a call coming in from what he calls "headquarters." Bowyer checked his phone Friday during his news conference at Kansas Speedway , dismissing the incoming call when it turned out not to be from his wife, Lorra, halfway across the country with the couple's 2-day-old son, Cash Aaron Bowyer . Friends and family had warned Bowyer that his life was about to undergo a dramatic change with the Wednesday birth of his first child -- and with more than just his phone settings -- but the 35-year-old driver wasn't so sure. "You're like, 'There's no way,' then all of the sudden that little gremlin comes out of there and you're like, 'Oh my God, this is real,' " Bowyer said before making reference to his frenetic bedside manner during the process. "I was probably not the norm as far as a spectator in an event like that. In the room there I was high-fiving people and I was kind of pushing the doctor out of the way at one point because I was trying to get a better view of him coming into the world. Of course, the nurses are trying to hold me back and they're like, 'You can't get that close.' I'm like, 'Get the hell out of my way, here he comes.' It was a lot of fun. We were all laughing." With one life-altering experience under his belt this week, Bowyer sets his course toward a what could be a career-defining victory at his home track in Sunday's Hollywood Casino 400 (2 p.m. ET, ESPN). A Bowyer win would almost certainly align the planets toward turning the center of the sports universe to Kansas City, where the fountains are flowing bright blue in honor of their Royals' return to the baseball playoffs and where Chiefs fans continue to bask in the home team's Monday Night Football thrashing of the New England Patriots. Bowyer had turned the TV off Tuesday night before the Royals' victory advanced them to the American League Divisional Series against the Angels. Then came the mid-morning commotion of the impending childbirth. "I'm like, 'Honey, you ain't going to believe this, but the Royals won,' " recalled Bowyer , demonstrating an uncanny sense of domestic timing. "Now we're arguing about the Royals winning and they're carting her out the door and I'm like, this is crazy." The choice of Baby Bowyer's name offers a nod to American music legends Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley, whose middle name was Aaron. Though Bowyer wouldn't confirm whether any musical influence was involved in the decision, he did say that some alternates didn't make the final cut. "Well, she wouldn't go for Cle-Bo -- Cletus Bocephus," Bowyer said. "That's the one that me and my friends came up with one night at the campfire, and she was definitely down on that. So we went with Cash." While his life at home has changed forever, so have his old stomping grounds. Bowyer -- who claims Emporia, Kansas, some 100 miles from Kansas Speedway , as his hometown -- was still three years away from competing in NASCAR's national series when the 1.5-mile track began hosting the Sprint Cup tour in 2001. Since those beginnings, the area around the speedway has built up into a thriving community. "This place was the bad part of town," Bowyer said. "To see what has become of this area and to watch the first race here, I remember being down in the infield on top of a motor home, I don't remember who it was, but I was down watching the very first race here. Watched the shopping center being built, watching the baseball diamonds and now the soccer fields, the casino -- all of this area has really become one of the best places to be in Kansas City and it all hubs around this race track. That's the impact this speedway did for this community." MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
Illness sidelines Nationwide regular so Cup driver steps in RELATED: Play NASCAR Fantasy Live " Sign up for RaceView today FORT WORTH, Texas -- Clint Bowyer had plans to go shopping after the final NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice on Saturday at Texas Motor Speedway , but instead he relieved an ill Elliott Sadler and finished ninth in the NASCAR Nationwide Series ' O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge . "Yeah, I was going to buy a pair of cowboy boots at the stockyards," Bowyer said of his previous plans for the day. "I didn't win a cowboy hat -- so I'm just out of luck." But it was a good thing for Joe Gibbs Racing that Bowyer , a fellow Toyota driver, didn't make his trip to the Western stores and was available in a pinch. Sadler had been battling a stomach issue all day and JGR didn't have many other options since Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth were already participating in the race. Sadler managed to start in the car in order to be eligible for points, but after a caution on Lap 7 he drove to pit road and made the switch. After Sadler got out of the car he sat slumped on the pit-road wall before being driven away on a golf cart. But thanks to Bowyer's efforts, Sadler stayed within striking distance (20 points) of Regan Smith for second place in the Nationwide standings. Joe Gibbs stopped by after the race to shake Bowyer's hand and say thanks, and J.D. Gibbs also was there to give Bowyer a hearty pat on the back. Bowyer appeared to have a shot to pick up the win for Sadler when he got as high as fourth place after moving up three spots during a pit stop on Lap 131 of 200. Unfortunately for him, though, the car began to get loose in the later stages of the race and he dropped as low as 11th before rebounding to get the top-10. At one point, Bowyer commented over team communications on how his feet weren't quite hitting the pedals right, an understandable problem considering the car wasn't his and wasn't set up to fit his body. "Nothing fit," Bowyer said. "I was having trouble; I'd killed it on pit road. There's just several things you know that are not your norm, so it kind of throws you out of sync." But overall, Bowyer said he had fun and it was worth forgoing his plans to help out a friend. "Well, you never want to get in, especially since Elliott has done a lot for me in my career and been a good friend over the years," Bowyer said. "I hate to see him sick like that. He was looking pretty rough." There was no immediate word on whether Sadler would be ready for next week's race in Phoenix . He is finishing his tenure with JGR after announcing Friday that he would join Roush Fenway Racing in 2015 in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView
Earnhardt Jr., Bowyer speak at Phoenix testing on Charlotte incident
Clint Bowyer talks about getting back to racing and what it's like being a father.
Clint Bowyer gets upset with Reed Sorenson after a wreck in DAYTONA 500 qualifying.
Bowyer's finish at Dover is only his second top-five finish of 2014
Both drivers miss out on making the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup RELATED: Play Perfect Chase Grid Challenge for chance at $100,000 prize RICHMOND, Va. -- Their chances at racing their way into NASCAR's 10-event playoff were slim, but both Clint Bowyer and Kyle Larson had a chance, and any chance is better than no chance at all. Bowyer nearly pulled it off, but neither race winner Brad Keselowski nor Greg Biffle , who finished 19th, gave the Michael Waltrip Racing driver much to work with. "That's all I had; that's all we had as a race team," Bowyer said of his third-place finish. "We put it all out there and still we were just third-best. We've got some work to do, but a lot of racing left." A win would have earned either driver, Bowyer or Larson, a ticket into the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, which begins next weekend at Chicagoland Speedway . The more difficult process involved finishing the appropriate number of positions ahead of Ryan Newman and/or Biffle. Newman was steady if unspectacular, rolling his way to a rock-solid ninth-place finish. Biffle seemed more likely to fold, going two laps down at one point in Saturday night's Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway . But in the end, he managed to do what he needed to do to make the Chase, eventually ending the night with a seven-point margin on Bowyer , and the final of the 16 berths to be awarded. "If you make the Chase you want to compete for a championship," Bowyer said. "Truth be told, we're not there right now. A lot of work to do. We've got to continue to build on momentum like we had here tonight. "You know, it's definitely frustrating not making that Chase, but like I said, when you do make the Chase, you want it to be for a championship, not just ride around in it. We still haven't won a race … everybody on this 15 team deserves a win by the end of the year, and I'll see to it they get it." Bowyer had been a Chase participant on five previous occasions, including the two previous seasons. After qualifying sixth for the final regular-season NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, Bowyer had moved to fourth when NASCAR brought out the caution just past the 50-lap mark. Quick work by his No. 15 Toyota team put him second in the running order for the restart, but the outside line failed to advance, and Bowyer soon found himself running fourth and having to fight for lost positions. Throughout the race, he remained in the top five. But Keselowski's dominance and Biffle's unwillingness to go quietly into the night left Bowyer Chase-less. "Tip my hat to my guys, I'm really proud of them," co-owner Michael Waltrip said afterward. "They were really close to winning that race." But Keselowski, he said, "was just amazing" while runner-up Jeff Gordon "was just a little bit better" than Bowyer . No Chase, perhaps, but 10 races remain just the same. "I think that's their attitude, too," Waltrip said of the No. 15 team. "They don't quit, they don't give up. We know that this chapter is closed for us but we can come back and win races; we need to be on TV for … all our sponsors. "Clint's got a great attitude, he's energetic and fun to be around; I think maybe he can let loose now and maybe go win some races and we can finish the season strong." While Bowyer ran in the top five the majority of the night, Larson, the Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender, spent most of his evening inside the top 10, eventually finishing 11th. The Chip Ganassi Racing driver finished 16 points behind Biffle. "I'm still proud of my team," Larson said as he leaned back against his No. 42 Chevrolet. "We've been working hard and we're getting closer." Larson said he knew his odds weren't good, but "it was more that I was just hoping for the 16 (of Biffle) to have some trouble; he had about the night I figured he would, which was a smart night, to stay up there and make his way into the Chase. "Clint was doing a very good job too, all race long. I thought he might have a shot to win. I guess he fell just a little short." MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: NASCAR Chase Grid games WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
From contact with Kyle Larson to a tire fire, Clint Bowyer had a rough night at Richmond